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Visa Infinite Credit Cards

With VISA being a public company now, they are looking for ways to spread their reach and make more money. One way is to compete with one of their arch rivals, American Express. AMEX cards are notorious for offering better rewards than the traditional VISA/Mastercard, but times are changing.

Introducing the new Visa Infinite credit cards. These prestigious cards are jam packed with travel features/insurances but with similar fees as the regular Visa travel cards (~$120/year). As these cards include travel insurances such as travel medical, trip cancellation/interruption, lost baggage, and car rental collision, the annual fee will pay for itself in a single vacation. Qualification for these cards is a little more challenging however as they require at least $60k/year income or $100k/year family income.

It seems that some of the big banks have jumped onboard offering specialized versions of the Infinite VISA, but which bank offers the best Visa?

Note that MDJ is not affiliated with the cards mentioned below.

CIBC TD Bank Royal Bank
Annual Fee: $120 $120 $120
Rewards: 1 mile for $1 spent, 1.5 mile for $1 spent @ gas, grocery, drug stores 3 pts for $1 spent, 20k pts = $100 towards travel 1 RBC pt for $1 spent
Return: 1%-8% but high returns limited to business class Aeroplan tickets. 1.5% towards any travel. ?
Theft /Extended Warranty: No Yes Yes
Trip Cancel Ins: No Yes No
Trip Interrupt Ins: Yes Yes Yes
Travel Med Ins: Yes (15 days) Yes (8 days) Yes (15 days)
Travel Concierge: Yes Yes Yes
Lost /Delay Baggage Ins: Yes Yes Yes
Car Rental Ins: Yes Yes Yes
Common Carrier Accident Ins: Yes Yes Yes
Free Travelers Cheques: No Yes ?

As you can see from the table above, RBC has a lot of question marks next to it. Their Infinite “black” Visa is offered to private clients, aka: high net worth clients, for a lower fee than non private clients. The exact details haven’t officially been released to the general public just yet. I have read that the high annual fee is justified by offering a free Priority Pass membership along with a TabletPlus membership. RBC must be attempting to replicate the prestigious American Express Centurion Black credit card, but exclusively for Canadians.

The TD and CIBC Visa Infinite credit cards are very similar. Although the CIBC Aeroplan rewards may potentially have a higher return than the TD travel rewards, the TD card has the advantage of reward flexibility, trip cancellation insurance, purchase insurance, extended warranty and free travelers cheques.

I can see these cards being huge for existing Aerogold and TD card holders as they can convert and receive an abundance of new perks for the same annual fee. For me, unless I start traveling extensively, I’m sticking with the no fee credit cards.

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Unspending July 16, 2008, 9:55 am

    Thanks for this comparison chart. I don’t think I’ll be getting any of these cards in the near future, but I appreciate your in-depth credit card comparisons. It’s time for me to switch to a lower interest credit card and your blog has been very helpful.

    Take care,
    Andrea

  • Telly July 16, 2008, 10:31 am

    Don’t most other cards already have these features? I’m not sure what advantages the TD Infinite card has over my TD Gold Elite Visa for example…

  • Drew July 16, 2008, 10:34 am

    This review came at a very convenient time for me. I was previously an aero gold member and just activated my infinite card. I was originally planning on canceling my card but the increase in the perks as well as the activation bonus miles suckered me back in.

    The reason is I’ve gone for the aero over other no-fee cards or other travel cards is simple, I travel alot. With my job I’m flying alot within North America and usually with Air Canada. Thus I’m already building up a healthy aero plan mile balance. So by using the Visa infinite I’m getting points that add to that balance. Also I put all my company expenses for the trips on the card thus getting a ‘points return’ on their money :)

    Anyways I haven’t sat down to crunch the numbers to see what kind of return I’m getting. But I’m saving up for a big trip so hopefully I’ll feel like it was all worth it.

  • FT FrugalTrader July 16, 2008, 10:43 am

    Telly, i’m not sure about the TD gold elite Visa, but most Visas don’t have a combination of the benefits offered by the TD Visa Infinite.

    Travel Cancellation Insurance – usually extra with every plane ticket
    Travel Interruption Insurance – can get this as an extra when booking with a travel agent
    Travel Medical – extra $$
    Car rental collision – most higher end CC’s offer this, but not all.
    Baggage insurance
    Purchase/extended warranty – quite a few credit cards carry this, but not in combination with the above.

    I think the biggest appeal is that it is an “all in one” card with a bunch of travel insurances in one package.
    http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/tdvisa/compare_travel.jsp

  • Telly July 16, 2008, 11:08 am

    FT,
    All but the Travel Cancellation / Interruption Insurance is included in the TD Gold Elite (which we never purchase when travelling) but the Gold Elite includes Auto Club membership (24 hr. roadside assistance) which is very useful for those of us with older vehicles as it’s actually cheaper to pay the annual fee than CAA dues. Oh, and the 1% cash back (no limit or tiers) is a bonus.

    If I understand it correctly, TD travel points are worth 0.5% of purchases (assuming you don’t use the TD Visa Travel Rewards Centre which will be more costly than booking on your own 99% of the time).

  • FT FrugalTrader July 16, 2008, 11:30 am

    Telly, ah, so the auto club membership is the main draw to the TD Gold card. I’m going to look into that as I currently have the “Canadian Tire” roadside assistance program. It does sound like a good deal for those with older cars.

  • Telly July 16, 2008, 1:41 pm

    FT: I think you mentioned that you bank with TD. If you have the Select Service account ($24.95 / mth, waived with $5k min. monthly balance and I know how much you love cash & emergency savings ;)), the fee for the card is waived. Just an fyi.

  • Max Power July 16, 2008, 2:21 pm

    FT, this may be a bit of a tangent, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on emergency roadside assistance. I have checked out a few options in the past (mainly CAA and Canadian Tire) but found that the cost didn’t warrant the potential benefits. Have you done any sort of cost-benefit analysis? That could be a great future post.

    • FT FrugalTrader July 16, 2008, 2:27 pm

      Hey Max, I think that is a great idea for a post. Do you know of any other companies that offer roadside assistance? So far i’ve heard of: TD auto club, CAA, Canadian Tire, Rogers and Costco.

  • Max Power July 16, 2008, 2:30 pm

    FT, I have also seen similar products offered through my auto insurer (Johnson).

  • Chuck July 16, 2008, 2:50 pm

    Off topic:
    I have CAA and I’ve used roadside assistance once. Free maps, discounted movie tickets and hotel discounts are all perks I used in the last year.

    I view it as an insurance policy so I’m not expecting my net benefit to exceed the cost.

  • Telly July 16, 2008, 4:15 pm

    I agree with Chuck. I hope to never have to use my roadside assistance.

  • Julian July 16, 2008, 4:52 pm

    Interesting article. But what about the RBC Infinite Avion card? Although it is still not fully released yet, it would be nice to have more information on it.

    One thing that surprises me: why is Visa allowing their Infinite brand to be treated so differently by each bank? As far as I know, almost everyone from TD is being transferred over from the old gold classic card – not really too fancy. On the other hand, the RBC private banking card will be nearly impossible to get. Some uniformity of expectations would be nice.

  • Ramona July 16, 2008, 5:14 pm

    I just joined CAA and wish I had done it much sooner. You can get lots of discounts just by being a member. My favourite so far? The $8.10 tickets good for the movies – no restrictions at all. I’ll save a bundle on this alone, more than enough to pay for the membership fee. Hope I never have to use the roadside service!

  • Bjorn July 16, 2008, 6:05 pm

    These infinite cards are a bit of a joke in my opinion. The CIBC card, for instance, has very little added benefit over their standard Aerogold Visa. For someone who has comprehensive health insurance through an employer’s plan, the added benefit is nearly nil. The card is black; that’s the only real benefit for the status conscious. It’s all a poor attempt at marketing. But I’ll take the upgrade from Aerogold when the letter comes in the mail, as long as there is a healthy Aeroplan bonus involved.

  • Average Joe July 17, 2008, 1:10 am

    When I was looking for a travel credit card, I did a bunch of research. The best card that I found was the Visa Desjardins Odyssey GOLD. IT has all the usual travel perks like medical insurance, cancellation insurance, bag loss, etc… but it seemed better in every single category.

    For example, medical insurance was good for up to 45 days (as opposed to the usual 30 days). The common carrier insurance was $1,000,000 as opposed to $500,000. It just seemed that every perk was better.

    Maybe one of the drawbacks is that you only earn 1% of your spending to put towards trips. That might be lower than other cards, but the nice thing is that you can book your trip any way you like, and then apply any reward dollars towards that trip.

  • Four Pillars July 17, 2008, 1:36 am

    I used to have the CIBC Aerogold but it just wasn’t worth it for me since I don’t charge enough. Plus their points are almost impossible to use unless you can plan a trip 1 year in advance.

    I agree FT that the cash-back cards are the best!

    Mike

  • Telly July 17, 2008, 9:18 am

    Ugh Mike, I totally agree. Believe it or not though, I managed to book two tickets to BC back in March for August travel (unheard of!). Wouldn’t you know they tried to bump us off our flight (by sending us an itinerary change)? This is the 2nd time I’ve had to deal with this and am done with Aeroplan. But 1st I have to try to use up the rest of my points….

  • Cannon_fodder July 17, 2008, 11:08 am

    I think, as Drew stated, if you travel a lot with Air Canada (or their Alliance partners) and can achieve a high level of status with them, then the Aerogold is a good card. The Elite level of status gives you access to more seats.

    The other advantage is if you have a long flight you’d like to take with points, you can use them to get into Executive class.

  • FT FrugalTrader July 17, 2008, 11:23 am

    CF, those are my thoughts about aeroplan as well. The biggest advantage of aeroplan is the option to purchase business class tickets which make the return on spending in the 8% range.

    However, the fact that you need to pay an annual fee, lack of seat avail, in addition to booking/surcharges when reserving a seat keeps me away from aeroplan.

  • venter July 17, 2008, 3:34 pm

    I have the TD card, no annual charge as I have the select service account. As far as booking with TD, the prices are identical to those posted by Belair Travel (who we have used for booking our trips in the past before the card). Also, using TD travel gets you 9X points per $1 spent.

  • firefly July 18, 2008, 4:15 pm

    I work for RBC, just to get that out of the way. :) As far as I know, we will have 2 versions of the Visa infinite. One is the on you have listed on your chart for Private banking client. We do, however, have a Visa Infinite Avion that more closely resembles the TD and CIBC versions. Annual fee is $120 as well. Here’s the public link to all the details: http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/visainfiniteavion/index.html

  • Four Pillars July 18, 2008, 10:45 pm

    Telly – a trip to BC sounds great. I used to do that sort of thing (before kids).

    If you are trying to use up the points then just pick somewhere far, far away – book business class seats a year in advance. :)

  • Telly July 19, 2008, 12:02 pm

    Mike,
    We’ve used points for far trips in the past (China, Eastern Europe,…) but not with Air Canada. I’ve never used points to upgrade to business class. For some reason it always seemed so wasteful. I’d rather save them up to go elsewhere but I’ve heard it’s generally a good deal, as FT mentioned somewhere above.

    Most of the miles we’ve accumulated have been with Northwest Airlines as we almost always fly out of Detroit. We’ve found it’s MUCH easier to use miles with NW than with Air Canada (less miles used and less notice required) which is a good thing because we rarely ever plan our vacations more than a couple months in advance (BC thing is an exception because it’s for a friends’ wedding).

  • FT FrugalTrader July 19, 2008, 12:33 pm

    Telly, do you transfer your aeroplan points to NW? If not, how do you collect the points?

  • Julian July 19, 2008, 12:52 pm

    Average Joe has it exactly right – Desjardins is the best kept secret in Canada.

    As a westerner, I had never heard of Desjardins Financial Group and never saw any of their credit cards around until recently. But they do have the best deal around. Visa infinite may wish to check them out.

    I did some research on Desjardins – there’s some interesting stuff here. Desjardins (started by a man of the same name) was an anti-bank hero of the people, who wanted to create a credit union that lent responsibly to those who weren’t ruling class types. Desjardins is perhaps the best known ‘local’ financial institution in Quebec, and is apparently the largest credit union in Canada.

    But, unlike Vancity in Vancouver, which is a relative dinosaur in the credit card marketplace – with only two very basic credit cards to offer its clients – Desjardins has lots of products designed to appeal.

    Desjardins basic gold, for example, has a much lower annual fee than other banks, and gives special perks.

    Its Platinum card, which apparently is by invitation only (not the case, I called and got it over the phone), has many special perks. Here are some of the best: Spend 20,000 per year or more on your card and receive 1 percent cash back – which will pay the 130.00 annual fee with money to spare. Not that it matters, too, but people really notice their card design. It is really flashy silver and black – people always notice it at stores.

    Air miles are basically bonus dollars which you can collect on anything at a 1/1 ratio; however, if you purchase anything in foreign currency, you get 2 percent in bonus dollars. The money can be redeemed at any time- the cash back is paid at the end of your renewal period.

    There are some drawbacks: Desjardins’ customer service is not the greatest – their staff have some trouble speaking in English comfortably, and they may well be on a clock to answer calls, because you get the sense they want you off the phone as soon as your issues are resolved – maybe they don’t have many staff members. That’s another thing, they aren’t open late – especially if you live on the wet coast.

    I have heard that they are moving into the BC marketplace soon, so maybe things will improve….

  • paulette July 19, 2008, 3:18 pm

    I love no fee credit card:) I also avail such kind of service.

  • Telly July 19, 2008, 8:12 pm

    FT, all of the points we’ve collected on NW have been through previous flights. Between some business trips to China & Europe (mostly my husband) and our own paid flights to Africa & New Zealand, we’ve accumulated a number of miles but we’ve also used a fair amount as well.

    I believe NW miles don’t expire quite as quickly as Aeroplan miles and NW offers greater miles once you reach elite level status whereas I believe Air Canada only reduces miles earned when you buy discounted tickets.

  • Mihai July 20, 2008, 12:37 am

    “Its Platinum card, which apparently is by invitation only (not the case, I called and got it over the phone), has many special perks. Here are some of the best: Spend 20,000 per year or more on your card and receive 1 percent cash back – which will pay the 130.00 annual fee with money to spare. ”

    What I understand is that the cash back is only for the amount OVER 20K/year; from the website.
    “Get a 1% cash-back on net purchases exceeding CDN$20,000 per year. 1% cash-back will be credited to your account on the account anniversary date (maximum CDN$800/year)1.”

  • Julian July 21, 2008, 12:26 am

    Oh no! That’s terrible news! Well, I suppose all the other things about the card still make it a very good value.

  • outoftheloop July 21, 2008, 2:01 am

    Are there any U.S. banks that offer this card at a reasonable rate? I’m unable to even locate any american banks that have the Visa Infinite.

  • Peter September 4, 2008, 6:56 pm

    Information in this article is either outdated or just wrong. I am an RBC Visa Platinum Avion card holder. My boyfriend has the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card. They are pretty much the same when it comes to annual fees or grace period or point redemption except for some extra perks for Visa Infinite. Both are $120 per year / 15000 points are given upon enrolment and 2500 each year upon renewal. (With 15000 one can travel short-haul within Canada). 1 point per each dollar spent for both cards, except the Infinite gives you 1.25 points per dollar spent on travel related purchases (airlines, hotels, car rentals etc.). Both have insurance and zero cardholder liability.
    The only real “visible” difference is the fact that it is harder to apply for the Infinite card (apparently you need 65K – 100K per year income). The spending limit is not “infinite.” It, as with all cards, depends on your income and spending habits. (I mean the Infinite card does have all that 24-hour Concierge bs, but who cares about that).
    Another perk with Avion cards is that you can exchange Avion points for British Airways points (most of the time 1 to 1; however, a couple times per year they have promotional periods when the points can be exchanged 1 to 1.5. How great is that?!) Otherwise travel is on any airline, any time, no blackouts or seat restrictions. Unlike the “Air Canada card” (I believe).

  • FT FrugalTrader September 5, 2008, 12:18 am

    Peter, the information provided for the RBC infinite card above was the information available at the time. I’m now in the process of updating to the most current info.

  • NotSoInfinite November 24, 2008, 2:12 am

    I think some people here are confusing the RBC Infinite Avion and the RBC Infinite cards – they are not at all the same. The Infinite Avion is relatively easy to obtain, the Infinite is NOT, and can be had only through a relationship with a private banker.

    The Infinite Avion seems like a dilution of the brand, to me. Odd marketing.

  • Mike December 2, 2008, 2:04 pm

    I just switched from the Platinum to the Infinite cards only becasue I still argued with them to give me the 15k points and they did. The cards are essentially the same except the .25 more points for travel related purchases, and a few more rather small perks. They do have a 60k individual or 100k family income requirement however.

    The Infinity card is completely different. I was joking with the guy on the phone, there is a $499 fee for the card which seems nuts, but this card is for millionairs only. You have to have millions in investments/bank to even apply for the card.

    I think it is smart branding really because how many non millionairs are going to want that card just casue it does suggest a little more pretiege. The cards have different names, although close. Infinite, and Infinity.

  • NotSoInfinite December 2, 2008, 3:07 pm

    Mike:

    Not sure where you get “Infinity” from – the cards I’ve seen all say “Infinite”, which is why I think the branding’s weird.

  • Elman January 19, 2009, 5:12 pm

    credit cards will soon require pin # instead of signature. This will shift the onus of liability to the consumer. Maybe MDJ can do an article.
    http://www.cbc.ca/money/moneytalks/2008/11/ellen_roseman_the_promise_and.html

  • Ric Sandy February 12, 2009, 5:34 pm

    Visa has completely diluted the prestige and cachet of the Infinite card rollout by upgrading EVERYONE who was a Aerogold, Aventura, or Avion cardholder. I know many Aerogold and Avion Infinite cardholders who absolutely do not meet the minimum criteria for acceptance and received Infinite cards in the mail to replace their current cards. Visa Infinite is a poor substitution for Centurion and only a means to justify higher merchant fees.

  • Jay Jay May 3, 2009, 2:36 pm

    I work in a retail business, there is absolutely no prestige in Infinite cards, Gold card members or even regular card members have been given Visa Infinite cards.
    I have talked to quite a few of our clients ( how did you get the card ? ) and they say ” Oh i dont know , it just came in the mail ” Minimum $60,000 requirement is only on the paper / application … I guess!
    On the other hand American Express Platinum CHARGE card ( not credit card ) and Centurion card , the criteria is very firm and standards of aquiring the cards are strictly based on financial status/portfolio ….No Money….No Platinum charge card or Centurion card …..simple as that, this is why you dont see them very often .
    Visa should have been selective with Infinite series.
    Since there is no campaign on RBC Infinite card , so many are not aware it if it exists . Plus RBC should have given a different name so that it has its own distinction in the market. I can assure you that vast majority of merchants/customers will not know the difference between RBC Infinte or Regular Infinite card .( Suggestion RBC guys ) …. …..Unless RBC wants to keep it to Private Private RBC clients only ….then its a different storey

  • Franko June 5, 2009, 8:37 am

    I’m organizing a trip to France, and the TD Infinite card has given me a total of $1100 back for my trip. It’s important to note 3 things:

    (1) I had emptied the card 2 years ago on my last flight to europe

    (2) we are not big travelers, so these points are earned simply by doing groceries and the like.

    (3) we are traveling with another couple who do not have a points card and they allowed me to buy their plane tickets with my card which really helped (9 points for every $1 spent).

    The card has REALLY paid for its self many times over and I am VERY happy with it.

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